Wesley Brown

Honesty in Communication: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Several key ingredients always go into the making of a successful piece or campaign for a client. Of course your talent, budget and resources need to be there….that goes without saying. But there is another extremely important ingredient that comes into play whether you are a client or an agency: Honesty.

Now, I’m not talking about being honest in your financial dealings or other forms of basic civility. I’m talking being honest in communication, and in the ideas that make it up. What do I mean by that? Let me give you an example from both the client and agency side.  Let’s say you are an agency and have a customer that wants to base their campaign around an image or idea that you think is absolutely horrible for the campaign and its goals. One of the worst things you can do at that point is to say “Sure! This is great!!!” and move forward with an idea you know isn’t the best for your client.   This is where honesty in communication comes in.   While it might be very easy-and very human-to just run with the bad idea, it is your job as an agency with integrity to steer the conversation to what you think works best for the client and their brand.

This can be a hard and somewhat awkward conversation to have if the client is already “in love” with their idea. But you owe it to them and you owe it to yourself to be honest in this situation.   After all, what good are to your customers if you don’t give them what you feel is the best you have to offer? What good have you done by saying “yes” to everything clients throw at you whether or not their ideas are good or bad? Of course, there is a fine line between delivering a good case for your ideas and being inflexible to the point of turning the customer off. If you can’t get the client to agree with your whole vision, try to work within the parameters they have given you while you try and incorporate new or exciting elements that they might not have thought of themselves.

As I mentioned, there is honesty required on the client side as well. If you are paying for a piece of design (be it branding, animation or some other creative product), you owe it to yourself to be honest about the products and service you are receiving for you hard-earned money. If an agency isn’t delivering, don’t be afraid to say so! The client/agency relationship should be thought of as a triangle whose three points are composed of both parties and the end-product. If these points aren’t all in alignment, the triangle of overall success falls apart and everyone walks away with poor-and often false-impressions of each other.

So clients, take heed: Get what you are paying for by communicating your goals and feedback honestly and in a timely manner. Recognize that agencies that put honesty in communication at the forefront of their process are doing their best to deliver the proper goods to you and your brand.   Don’t be offended if they tell you your pre-conceived ideas aren’t the best for you. Take it as the sign of honor that it is, and then work together to achieve your common mission.

What do you think? Have you had these types of experiences either as a client or an agency?   Let us know your thoughts! I’m sure there are some interesting stories to tell!

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